They were simply gorgeous.
When large numbers are co-located, it’s called a bloom, not a swarm. Since jellyfish are an important part of the marine ecosystem, shame on me for using the scare-factor term like ‘swarm’ instead of the benign and more accurate) bloom. Like other misunderstood marine creatures like sharks, jellyfish need respect- not misinformation!
These big jellies are caught locally for food. We didn’t see that in action, but a Canadian conservationist
has an interesting writeup with a great series of images on his blog. Our experience sampling jellyfish at a small restaurant in Kuching was… well, not something we need to repeat. It was just very bland, like trying to eat rubberbands. The only flavor was from the incredibly spicy sauce. Excellent sauce, but I can find tastier vehicles for it.
Besides being a source of food for humans, these jellyfish are an even more important food source for turtles and large fish. It’s nesting season and we saw a lot of big turtles popping their heads out of the water for a breath of air (between jellyfish snacks no doubt!). The jellies also protect smaller fish from their predators: a number of little fish found refuge among their stinging cells. Honestly, isn’t this kind of cute?
Most of the jellyfish were the large species shown above and in Ronald’s blog, predominantly white with delicate pink coloration along the tentacles. Thanks to Christopher Mah
and a lively discussion on Facebook
, I learned the are probably a sister to Crambione mastigiophora
. They weren’t the only ones, though. These stunning jellies were much smaller but hello, vibrant! Reminded me of cartoon mushrooms.
Niall had the idea to take some photos from underneath the jellies. The images of these same big jellyfish seen through the light was startling and beautiful.
The biologists on Facebook helpfully guided me to a few resources. I’m really looking forward to downloading a species guide
when our internet access is good enough. Meanwhile, there’s a lot more to learn from Jellywatch
. We’ll be following them and submitting sightings of blooms there too.